Hong Kong Summer Box Office Largely Unaffected by Protests

Toy Story 4 -Publicity still 12-H 2019
Walt Disney Studios

Toy Story 4

A season of social unrest that has gripped the city and made global headlines only caused a slight drop as big Hollywood tentpoles like 'Toy Story 4' and 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' attracted cinemagoers.

Box office returns in Hong Kong during the months of July and August dropped only 2 percent, despite waves of ongoing pro-democracy protests that have swept across the city since June.

Hong Kong's summer box office totaled $50 million, down from $51.4 million in 2018, according to Hong Kong Box Office Limited, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association and the Hong Kong Theatres Association. Forty-eight films were released during the months of July and August.

Toy Story 4 topped the chart with a $11.3 million gross from when it bowed July 11 to the end of August. It proved that the franchise was as popular as ever, since the previous installment also took the same amount in 2010, albeit having been released four days later than the current one.

Spider-man: Far From Home came second with $7 million during the two-month period, but it took more than half of that during the first two days of its release June 28, amounting to $3.8 million.

The live-action remake of Lion King placed third with $4.9 million, followed by Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw with $4.7 million.

Hong Kong films fared better than they did in 2018, when only a single local film broke into the top 10. But the improvement was only modest. This year, two had that honor, with the Andy Lau and Louis Koo starring The White Storm 2: Drug Lords coming in fifth with $3.2 million and Line Walker 2, also starring Koo, rounding out the top 10 with $1.2 million.

Cinema attendance has been one of the few Hong Kong industries only marginally affected by a summer of political and social unrest in the city, a possible reason being that as almost all cinemas are located inside shopping malls, they offer refuge and escape to citizens not participating in the street protests.

Hong Kong has seen dozens of marches over the last 12 weeks, with millions of people on the streets peacefully demonstrating alongside sporadic violent clashes with police and organized crime. The demonstrations initially began in protest against a proposed bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents and visitors to be extradited to China for trial. Over 1,100 people have been arrested since June.